Almost 7 month old Pup

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Lotsaquestions
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Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:26 am

Hey all,

I am looking for advice and, hopefully, reassurance about the behaviour of our adolescent Spitz cross. We've had him since he was 8 weeks old, met the parents who were lovely, and have been going to force free, positive reinforcement classes since he had his injections. We socialised him following a checklist given to us by one of our trainers (he attended a KC puppy foundation and a IMDT puppy class, both very structured with supervised play/greets) and made sure they were all positive. We were also aware of 'over-socialisation' so made sure we rewarded calm in as many different places as possible. He displayed some resource guarding which we counter-conditioned away and haven't seen any since he was 15 weeks old, but other than that he was a fantastic pup. Fast forward to the teens...

He's demand barking, mouthing, and OBSESSED with dogs. The demand barking and mouthing is slowly dwindling and we work hard on both of those, but the dog obsession seems to be going nowhere fast. At his training classes he just barks none stop for 10-15mins because he wants to play, and he's lost all focus. On walks if he sees a dog it is 50/50 if he barks at it, and he has no reliable distance threshold. Some days he can pass a dog right next to him without a peep, other days he's pulling and barking to say hello (it is definately excitement/frustration). Some days dogs across the park are too exciting, other days he'll ignore them. He plays with dogs often, but also walks with them on the lead calmly. He attends group socialisation walks where he is relaxed and happy, both on and off the lead, surrounded by dogs small to large.

To combat this we've tried lots of things. We've tried click for calm, but he just ignores food (he will eat it if I shove it in his face, but it isn't a priority). We do self control exercises daily (its your choice, doggy zen, sit stays, amp up and calm down) and he has excellent self control around everything except dogs. We have also tried impromptu 'find its' with him at the sight of a dog, but he ignores it. Before walks we've tried wearing him out both mentally (sniff games, puzzles, activity mats, tricks) and physically, but then by the time he gets to the park to meet and greet he's so tired he turns into a bit of a brat (ignores other dogs 'back off' signals) so then he's relegated to his lead. It also doesn't seem to effect his barking that much.

His excitement barking, I have to add, isn't just limited to dogs. When he arrives in a new place he's just over stimulated and excited and sometimes stands there barking at absolutely nothing and everything. Its the same high pitch/whiney bark he gives off to dogs. In time he does calm down enough to relax, and is able to chill out around dogs at pubs after a good run/play and even have a snooze. I will also add he's not neutered yet as he was a tiny bit shy as a pup (not overly, just a bit more fragile than some of the other pups. He definately wasn't the most shy by a LONG way) so we wanted to leave his confidence to grow a bit.

Basically, I need help and advice and hopefully some 'yes my dog was like that too, but now he's wonderful!' We still take him to new places and really try to introduce them slowly so he doesn't get worked up, but it is so embaressing and some days when he won't be quiet I wonder if its doing more harm than good to him. I've heard alot of 'practice makes perfect' warnings when it comes to barking.

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Nettle
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Nettle » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:57 am

He's hit adolescence. All adolescents are horrible, some majorly so - yours sounds pretty normal. It WILL get better, he WILL mature into a lovely dog, we've ALL been through it, and this is a time to have chocolate, cake, wine, whatever, to hand while you mutter the mantra "He'll grow out of it".

You are right to keep him entire - if he is neutered now he will stick in this phase because he won't be able to grow up properly. Those hormones are about a lot more than sex, and rewire the dog into a co-operative adult. But it takes time, and - sorry - you probably have another 18 months of this. After which you needn't neuter him at all - there is nothing wrong with dogs as nature made them, and once past the storms of adolescence, they mature into Joe Cool dogs. So only neuter if you want to, not because someone else thinks you should.

Except for one thing in your case - Spitz types bark and it's in their DNA. He may grow out of it as he's only half Spitz, or he may not. So you need to put a brake on the barking, and there are kind ways of doing this, but I'm trying not to overwhelm you with a huge long reply, so we or someone else will come along later and we'll look at bark control.

It is my opinion that you should leave the dog classes for now and resume them when his brain is in a better place - this may be months away but it's okay. You can train a dog at any age and your groundwork will come back when he is more grown up. But teenagers have trouble learning because their minds are all over the place. Avoid triggers - if he kicks off you are too close to whatever, so quietly walk him away, realise you will need the patience of several saints and that it WILL get better. One day everyone will tell you that you are SO LUCKY because your dog is SO GOOD.

And on those days, you can smile to yourself, because you know how long that took.

Stick with us - we will help and support. Hang on to the idea that you have a perfectly normal dog.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:52 am

Nettle wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:57 am
It is my opinion that you should leave the dog classes for now and resume them when his brain is in a better place - this may be months away but it's okay. You can train a dog at any age and your groundwork will come back when he is more grown up. But teenagers have trouble learning because their minds are all over the place. Avoid triggers - if he kicks off you are too close to whatever, so quietly walk him away, realise you will need the patience of several saints and that it WILL get better. One day everyone will tell you that you are SO LUCKY because your dog is SO GOOD.

And on those days, you can smile to yourself, because you know how long that took.
All of this really resonates with me. Looking back, I should have stayed at most for the first half of the training classes, after which my dog was far too overwhelmed to do anything but jump up like a pogo stick. It was just encouraging the behaviour we wanted to stop! And the work we put in when he was at his most horrible really paid off in the long run.

Try to find places to walk him where there are fewer dogs around - in a dog park chances are he's going to be over threshold the whole time. Or walk him at times there's no one around, even if it means having to get up and out the house at silly o'clock.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:22 am

Thank you so much for your reply, I really, really, REALLY needed to hear that!

I said he was a Spitz x, but he is almost entirely Spitz looking. There are a few German Spitz' who run agility at crufts that are spitting images of his dad, but his mum had straighter softer hair on her double coat so some mixing went on somewhere. These 'backyard bred' Spitz's are hugely common around here. Long story short, I am going to assume he has a genetic need to bark, as at a guess his mum could have some Papillon in there somewhere which I have heard are also barkers.

Also very interesting about neutering, I didn't know it would stunt his mental development. We'll think about keeping him entire for as long as we can. He's shown no real behavioural issues because of it yet, and isn't one to want to square up to other entire boys (he's met alot on his group walks, as the trainer recommends keeping males entire for longer for their confidence). Other boys, however, have taken to being a bit in his face and macho.

The only thing is his love of the ladies, and he can be a bit of a pest if the lady doesn't tell him to pack it in. Obviously we step in, ideally before he wraps his little paws around her. Luckily he's not huge (9kg) and he has a thing for larger ladies, so often he can't reach and gives up. At times, though, with the smaller ladies it does seem a bit obsessive and his tail flags in high arousal like he isn't really in control of what he is doing, just a pure drive to mount and not always in the right places. Lots of terrier ladies have rolled onto their backs in front of him, which is where he's at his worst. He walks on top of her and lets out a growl without teeth which generally signals he's over stimulated. The same higher pitch growl he does when he's got the zoomies or is getting too over stimulated in playing with dogs, not the same as when he's worried about something or the one he did when he used to resource guard. I am hoping this gets better with management and reinforcement for not mounting, as I am worried he can start a fight doing it in such a state of high arousal. Everytime a lady dog rolls over (Jack Russels seem to run up to him and do this ALOT) we step in before he even goes near her now.

@JudyN Sounds the same as my pup, except it is the first half of the class where his focus is zero, the second half he calms down enough to do waits and stays, and some heelwork. Before then it is just 'dogs, dogs, dogs' and he gets himself really wound up. We'll think hard about giving him a break from the classes, as the last thing I want is for him to be getting stressed. The thing about walking him with fewer dogs is I have been following Dunbar's 'three unfamiliar dogs a day' advice for socialising adolescents so have been taking him to the local park (it isn't strictly a dog park like in the US, but there are some dogs there). I wonder if anyone knows ways to adhere to Dunbar's advice while keeping him under threshold (or if the advice is worth it alltogether!)? Off the lead he plays and is able to relax once tired (laying down beside other dogs, loose eyes and tail), and can walk home without as much as a whimper if he sees another dog. He also takes food whilst he's off the lead, and on the group walks he checks in with us (for food reward, ofc) regularly. It is on the lead before he has had a chance to run about that he barks with excitement & frustration. Or if we're at somewhere like a pub or training or a pet shop. Weirdly, he's as quiet as a mouse on the lead before the group walks set off (up to 20 dogs), and just mooches around the other dogs saying hello and sniffing the trees really calmly.

I look forward to advice about barking, and any comments relating to mouthing & mounting if anyone has been through it or knows how to help. ALL advice and/or stories of their own experiences are very, very welcome. I will now go get my wine and cake and remind myself one day he'll be all grown up... On a happy note, today he had his first proper no paddling swim in the lake to fetch a floating stick and I felt like a proud mum... Then he shook lake water all over my face as I bent down to pick up the stick. Worth it!

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:01 pm

It's great that you recognise the different sorts of growls he uses in different contexts, and that they all have different meanings :D

I would take Ian Dunbar's advice with a huge pinch of salt (personally I think that applies to most of his advice). As your dog enjoys interacting with other dogs (a little too much :wink: ) you don't need to worry about meeting lots of new dogs. And really, three a day? :shock: You'd have to move to a different area every few months or you'd run out of dogs! Every time he meets a new dog and gets overexcited, this will reinforce the pattern, and reinforce the feeling that meeting dogs is frustrating. It's better to reduce the opportunities for unwanted behaviour and keep working on 'good' behaviour. But 'good' behaviour will be hard while he's young and hasn't learnt to deal with frustration. It's more important that he focuses on you during walks rather than looking for opportunities to play with or mount other dogs.

Mouthing will also diminish as he becomes more able to deal with frustration. My dog was a HORROR with jumping up and mouthing but it was wonderful when I first saw him come at me with that look in his eye and then change his mind. Keep an eye out for your dog thinking about mouthing and stopping himself and reward the hell out of him. I still reward 'not being naughty' but it's easy to miss it!

Keep an eye out for anything that might predict whether he's going to interact calmly or not. e.g. location, at the start or end of walks, soon after eating or not, type/gender of dog, open areas vs wooded areas... anything. Then if, say, better at the start of walks, make walks shorter (and have more of them) so you're increasing the number of 'good' interactions.

Bear in mind that if he's entire you may have a problem with other males (neutered or not) taking against him, particularly in his late adolescent/early adult years. If there's a lot of unneutered males round your way it might not be so bad as the dogs will be more used to coming across unneutered males, but round here they're less common and I have to keep my eye open as my (neutered) dog doesn't like them. Now he just wants to tell them off, he used to want to surgically neuter them himself :roll:

I can't help with the mounting and barking as they're not problems my dog had, but I can tell you that some days OH used to come home from work and ask how Jasper had been and I'd burst into tears :lol:
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:42 pm

JudyN wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:01 pm
...but I can tell you that some days OH used to come home from work and ask how Jasper had been and I'd burst into tears :lol:
Not just me then? Thank god! Some mornings I retreat into the garden because for some reason its the only place our pup will lay down and relax long enough that I can have 5mins to myself to drink a coffee!

Its hard not to notice his growls, he's the most vocal dog I've ever met with the widest range of noise! He huffs and growls and barks and yips and whines. The only thing he's not done yet is howl, but I'm sure he'll try that one day! He has different barks for different things, and the sneaky so and so knows how I react to each one and sometimes tries his 'someone at the door bark' to get me up to see him because his demand montonous yap isn't working. His 'woo woo woo' when he greets guests who enter the home is the cutest, because his whole body flops about.

I did think Dunbar's advice was a tall order, but as a first time puppy owner I'm of the mind set 'well they know better, best do it then' despite how crazy it sounds. We have actually been driving to different parks all around the city and beyond just to try and fill the quota... Sounds a bit bonkers now I have written it out!

I would say he's calmer at;
- End of walks
- After saying hello to at least one dog off lead,
- Walking beside another dog who he has been able to say hello to,
- Sniffy street walks
- Evening walk (he actually rarely barks on this one)

And his worst at;

- Start of walks
- Morning walk
- Getting out of the car
- New places
- Places where he needs to be stationary with dogs nearby (training, pubs, shops, cafes) <- This is his absolute worst
- Getting towards places he loves and knows well (barks before we turn the corner to the park, pulls and barks near my parents house, barks and pulls to get into the vets (yes he adores the vets and wags his tail the entire time he's being examined) & the pet shop)

I don't think type of location makes a difference, only if he's on a lead near dogs if he hasn't been able to play before then. For example he can meet and play with a dog in the woods if he's off lead without barking at it, and then be fine(ish) on lead with other dogs for the rest of the walk. But if he was on the lead and the first dog didn't say hello, he would whine and bark and whine and it would get worse and worse with each new dog until he is able to say hello to at least one, then he resets. Problem is he can be a little rude in greeting sometimes, and his recall is now totally unreliable, so we can't in good conscience just let him hassle the first dog he sees to make our life easier.

Great advice on mouthing, I have actually seen that look on him with demand barking. I've called it his 'holf look' because he sort of fake barks and makes a weird 'holf' sound with his throat as he tries not to bark at me. He used to sprint up to me and bark bark bark, now he'll sprint up to me and holf once. I'll make sure to reward him like he's the most amazing thing in the world next time I see it. Unfortunately for my OH he sprints up to him and mouths his arm, and it is my OH he mouths the most. He does sometimes grab a blanket/toy/our sleeve instead of skin so next time we see him make that decision he'll get a bucket of praise.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:33 pm

Lotsaquestions wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:42 pm
I did think Dunbar's advice was a tall order, but as a first time puppy owner I'm of the mind set 'well they know better, best do it then' despite how crazy it sounds. We have actually been driving to different parks all around the city and beyond just to try and fill the quota... Sounds a bit bonkers now I have written it out!
Trust your instincts, and your knowledge of your dog, and be prepared to reject anything any expert (or 'expert' :wink: ) tells you if it doesn't seem right for you or your dog. I was told I shouldn't encourage my dog to bark to ask to go through a door, but he's a naturally quiet type and for him, it was a clear comminication so that seemed a bit silly to me. He even developed 'One bark for out and two barks for in' :lol: Different approaches can work for different dogs with different mentalities (that's different positive approaches, of course!).

Having identified circumstances when he's calmer, try to keep to these and avoid the situations where he's worse. I would say avoid training, pubs, shops, cafes if there's other dogs there - it's just too much. Take him to pubs, shops and cafes where there's unlikely to be other dogs and don't plan on staying too long - it's a lot to ask a pup of his age to be calm in these places without other dogs, and you don't want him to think of these as play areas!
Unfortunately for my OH he sprints up to him and mouths his arm, and it is my OH he mouths the most. He does sometimes grab a blanket/toy/our sleeve instead of skin so next time we see him make that decision he'll get a bucket of praise.
What does OH do when he mouthes? The best course of action is to try to prevent it by having a toy or dog blanket on him at all times so he can offer it to the dog, or quickly removing himself from the room so the fun stops if he gets mouthy. (If you use timeouts they only have to be 5-10 seconds long.) It's probably best not to encourage him to grab his sleeve because he might get overexcited and rip it, or leave it soggy when OH needs to be smart :wink: And yes, reward the holf! :lol:
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Nettle » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:34 am

And a very heartfelt PLEASE don't let him run up to other dogs to 'say hello' or see if they'll 'play' because it quickly morphs into bullying behaviour, from which he'll get such a huge endorphin rush that he'll do it more and harder. Either he will get hurt or (far more likely) another dog will, but either way you do not want to establish it as a practice. Instead, on YOU seeing another dog (you are taller and can see further) put him on a short lead on the furthest side of you from the dog, and ask the owner if they can interact, just as you would with a child. He should never think he can just rush up to other dogs willy-nilly, and even though you think he is sweet and harmless, to a lot of dogs (and some wobbly old people too) he is too big a risk.

Owners of old, frail, medically damaged, pregnant, fearful or reactive dogs will so appreciate this courtesy.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:29 am

We'll stick to the calmer walks for a while and see if it helps him out. It is a shame as he used to love just relaxing with us in those places, or 'cleaning the floor' at the pet shop, but hopefully when his teenage brain has given way to a more adult one he can again. I have heard the first three months of adolescence are the worst? Perhaps we'll try again in two more months.

My OH does the 'fold arms, no eye contact, be a tree' which worked for me, but doesn't seem to be working for him. He also shoves a toy in his mouth the moment we even see it about to start and praise him like mad. Sometimes that does work, but some days it doesn't. We'll do the leave the room tactic (both of us so he doesn't just come to me instead I'm guessing?) and see if that helps.

@Nettle We ask permission for every single dog we see (not foolproof in places like the woods, unfortunately, as dogs just appear. However we have bought a new harness & longline for those places). Our own pup was shy when he was younger, and we ourself had a taste of 'adolescent bully' when a labrador jumped on him and kept trying to nip at him (and us!) while he was cowering in my OH's arms.

We make him sit & watch before I unclip his lead. He CAN be a bully (some days he's terrible, other days he's an upstanding member of dog society and plays and interacts really, really beautifully). But he can be rude and obnoxious and pushy and definately NOT sweet and harmless! I am watching him like a hawk for the moment he even thinks about it. If he does, the lead comes out and he goes home. The absolute worst he's been is with dogs smaller than him. He pushed over and pinned a Yorkie and harassed an elderly Shitzhu. Both times he went on his lead and we went home and I felt like the worst dog owner in the world. I had hoped it was just an age thing, but now after knowing about the endorphins I'm concerned that we have made a mistake somewhere and we have turned him into the very bully we tutted at months before.

What would you suggest to prevent him practicing being this way? He has been told off by dogs before and he does take their corrections well most of the time. We step in when he doesn't listen, and before he even starts if we can help it. We bought a harness with a handle on it for this very reason.

One extra question, why a really short lead and furthest away from the dog? Would that help calm him down? I have to admit that right now he is often standing in front of me like a meercat waiting to be 'unleashed' as I ask the other owners.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Nettle » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:39 am

You are doing SO WELL! Please don't beat yourself up about anything - this is a very tricky part of a dog's life, and the reason that most dogs seen in rescue are adolescents!

The short lead means there is no way he can get at the other dog, and your body between them is a natural barrier. You always have your body with you so it is an easy move, and soon you will do it without thinking. See how dogs move other dogs - they step between them, and use their bodies to block them. Dogs naturally understand this, though humans until taught tend to pull on the lead instead, which leaves the dog unprotected. Your message to your dog is "I will deal with this".

So - sequence is:
Spot other dog
Shorten lead
Body-block
Walk briskly past
When your dog is calm (which is distance related) reward him. This changes the concept from "another dog - I must make it react" to "another dog - I must walk calmly by and I get a really super reward."

Watch out for either dog dashing round behind as you pass - not every dog-owner is proactive, and those using extending leads can be complete dipsticks about letting their dogs get in your dog's face.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Nettle » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:47 am

I have to make this two posts because the Board deletes them if I type for too long :roll:

If you want to ask if the dogs may interact, keep your dog by your side on that short lead while you speak to the other owner. The rule is that you control the meeting, so if yours is straining to get at the other dog, there is no meeting. Don't tell him to sit or anything else - he just has to be calm, and he won't be for a while because dog meetings have been exciting. If when they meet he is polite, that's great, but if/once he starts to get over-excited (you will get to know the look) take him away. Don't scold or tut - just quietly remove him, and once he is calm reward him. Try to be ahead of the action. You will not be able to rely on other dog owners either, so if their dog looks over-excited and about to lose control, step in and take your dog away, just as you would with a child.

"Socialising" is really the wrong word for what we need from our dogs. We don't want them best friends and playtime mates with every dog they meet - we want them "dog-neutral". :)
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:02 pm

That makes so much sense, and thinking back on his behaviour, it is likely the very reason he is better when we're street walking than he is everywhere else. On the street walks we have always done just what you described without thinking about it, because that is what our trainer has been teaching us and I've just been practising between classes. Never let them meet if either dog is pulling, reward and leave after a three second sniff if they do meet, walk quickly past then reward after passing dogs, short lead and on the other side of our body to the dogs, lots of treats for calm behaviour. Whilst everywhere else I've always asked him to sit and let him loose even though he is all but frothing at the mouth and by no means calm. Can't believe I didn't think beyond 'I'll just do a bit of practising for class before I go to the park' and realise what it was actually teaching him. She did always ask us to ask for a sit & watch before he gets to go off lead, but I think the goal of that was to give them a bit of impulse control and calm, and not 'watch them try to sit while their backside is bouncing off the floor and their front legs are dancing as they manically glare into your eyes and demand you hurry up' which is what I've been doing. :roll:

The last three walks he's had have been strictly sniffy sniffy street walks in our attempts at calmer walks after advice here, and just today he passed a Yorkie who was going ballistic at him and he was as cool as a cucumber, letting out one small woof and continuing on. One small woof for him is practically dead silence in another dog. I think we are a long, long way away from him being calm in all places of course and evening street walks are when he's at his best, but now I have some tricks up my sleeve thanks to this forum, and a sudden realisation about why my trainer was actually teaching us these things. It also makes sense why he's better behaved on the start of the group walk, because all the other dogs have been trained by the same person so they are all calm and relaxed in the presence of dogs whilst on a lead.

I will keep you updated. The local park is almost empty early in the morning apart from a few regulars I know with well adjusted adult dogs, and they are all the treat bag carrying types (like me, ofc!) so I am sure they will understand what I'm doing with a wiggly barky teenager stuck on his lead until/if he relaxes enough to be let free.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:27 pm

I look forward to hearing how you get on - enjoy his puppy stage while you can because a couple of years on you'll be wondering why you wasted time worrying that he'd always be a pain.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:10 am

Just a quick update to make sure I am doing it as I should be.

I took him to the park this morning and met the other owners I know. The dogs there were a 9 month old wolfhoundx something (rescue) and a springer, the type of dogs our pup is better with. I kept him on a really short lead between my legs (I tried on one side, but the other dogs were loose so they kept running around to get him to play.) and waited until he calmed down. At first he barked, then he whined, and he pulled and pulled. Eventually he sat down on his own and stopped barking and whining, I then rewarded him and let him off. I knew he wasn't completley zen calm, but he wasn't OTT, chosing to sit on his own and staying pretty still rather than just 'containing himself'. Is this alright for a start for him or should I have been stricter?

I did also notice that when I let him off he was much more polite, didn't jump on them once, and when he got tired chasing the wolfhound x, lay down on his own despite the others running. Before it was like unleashing a sugar crazed child into a playground.

@JudyN I have to remind myself to do that alot. Some days I look at him and I just see a mountain to climb, but then I just say to myself 'you love him, show him' and I go get a toy to play with him. Often he reminds me. I come back from a stressful walk with him and sit down wondering if I'm doing everything wrong, and then he just jumps up next to me and rolls over for a tickle. People said raising a puppy is hard, but you really don't know how hard until you've done it... And we're contemplating doing it all over again when our pup is grown up!

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:36 am

My concern would be that by making him sit and watch the fun, you're going to get him more and more frustrated and risk a tantrum, or that frustration leading to inappropriate play. However, it sounds like it worked perfectly for you, in which case he will learn from it - it probably won't be long before he twigs that sitting quietly and waiting results in him getting to play.

Though you do also need to work on him NOT letting him play of course, so in particular if it's a dog you think he won't play nicely with, just keep him on lead and move away, encouraging him to come nicely.

You might find that as he becomes less puppy and more adolescent he becomes more of a bully, particularly with other young males, so don't be worried if he seems to regress - just keep on preventing all the 'bad' interactions you can to stop it becoming his go-to behaviour. Reminding yourself what teenage male humans can be like can help - their attitude to almost any encounter can seem like 'What do you think you're looking at?', 'Wanna make something of it?' and 'I could so have you if I wanted to.'

It's worth mentioning that a sound recall can get you out of a lot of situations which you've not managed to predict (not through any fault of yours - I often walk in woods and can't avoid occasionally walking round a corner and bumping into a dog Jasper doesn't like). Sound recall probably seems like a distant dream right now but keep working on the basics and think of it as an investment for the future. The best method IMO is to aim for 100% success, so at the moment don't even bother calling him back if he's playing with another dog or investigating the best smell ever - stick to really boring places, such as the house or garden, at a distance of two feet when you're armed with his favourite treat. A long line can also come in useful for increasing the distance/distractions.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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